On Monday night, luminaries the plus size industry headliners braved a torrential downpour to attend the premiere of the documentary Straight/Curve:Redefining Body Image, at Whitby Hotel in New York City. Models Sabina Karlsson and Nathalia Novaes, Chromat designer Becca McCharen (all appear in Straight/Curve) and Adrienne C. Moore of “Orange is the New Black,” among others came out in support of the documentary before its debut on EPIX Wednesday night at 8pm EST.
Straight/Curve goes behind-the-scenes of a photo shoot featuring several models ranging in age, size, and color, with interviews of noted fashion industry players who are trying to change the modeling landscape via size inclusion. So what do those featured in the documentary hope people unfamiliar with the plight of the plus-size industry will take away from it? “When it comes to 100 million women having an incredible voice within the industry, just everyday people saying they want to have change and the way fashion is presented to them just created for them,” says Emme, supermodel and founder, Fashion Without Limits. “There’s an economic bottom line. So if one woman says, don’t go shopping at XYZ stores and has very big web of influence, that’s a huge impact. And if 100 million women are not being serviced—whether they want to go out to girls’ night, for a wedding, a lovely affair—and they’re not getting clothes to satisfy those dressing needs, what kind of life is that? It’s time to change that discussion and help the future generations not deal with body images, and self-esteem and eating disorders. It’s a real problem if there’s a singular idea of beauty. We need to see African-American women, we need to see Latina women, age, and shape in a variety of ways. Women from all walks of life are in this film, and it’s a moment in time that going to get people to talk. When people talk, change happens.”
“I hope everyone realizes the correlation between what we see in the media and how we feel about ourselves is directly affecting us every single day.” says Iskra Lawrence, model, #AerieREAL and founder, National Eating Disorders Association. “Therefore, there is a responsibility for the media and fashion industry to work harder towards promoting healthy body image. In this film, I’ve gone into school and met young people who are literally saying, ‘When I see an image of a model, it make me feel worse about myself.’ This film is so necessary for everyone to understand that and to take responsibility.”
Post-film, a discussion with director Jenny McQuaile, designer Prabal Gurung, Lane Bryant SVP Brian Beitler, Moore and Lawrence moderated Glamour Editor-in-Chief Cindi Leive centered around the continued advancement of diversity and inclusivity in fashion and the media. For many on the panel, it is a personal responsibility.
“I think life is that journey of being less judgmental of yourself,” says Moore, who likened her body acceptance on-and off-screen to letting her hair go natural. “You know what, I’m gonna rock it, I’m gonna make it.”
Gurung, whose capsule collaboration with Lane Bryant was met with accolades, acknowledges there is more work to be done. “I can sit here and say, this is great, this is all happening. What needs to happen from high fashion, which is what I represent? We haven’t done anything. I just want to be very real about it. I realized in order for change to happen, the decision-making people—whether it a designer, an editor, an model agent, an advertiser, there have to be people at that table representing one of you. If you are sitting with size 2 decision makers and think change is going to happen, you need to wake up.”
Leive thanked Gurung for establishing the “No Smugness” rule in the fashion industry at the panel
Beitler, a father of five daughters, says, “I wanted to be part of a brand that could reshape the women thought about their bodies; the way men think about women’s bodies—this is not a feminist issue. It’s a human issue—and it takes all of committed to do this.”
“For me personally, and Lane Bryant, we’re on a journey,” says Beitler. “There’s still so much work to be done. Film is a way for consumers and others in the industry to see and process this movement in a much more impactful way, versus the soundbites that happen within the fashion industry—30 seconds spot of sometimes not the right thing. When you watch [the film] and see these models who are models and in the industry, it changes your perspective in a way an ad from a brand tries to be diversive can’t.”
Words: Patricia DeLuca
Check out some of the red carpet pictures…